RHAD with Niall Savage Architects
Featured in Saltscapes, January/February 2012
This house built "of the land" appears to emerge out of the surrounding batholithic rock. The name of the property is a nod to that geology (the Greek bathos meaning "depth" and lithos, "rock"). There are two distinct land forms where the home is situated - the large "whalesbacks" or curved hills of granite, and the "erratics", which refers to the large, gravity-defying boulders left on the land by receding glaciers. Those natural elements inform components of the home's design. The lower level is a concrete base. Hard and rugged like the landscape itself, it emerges as if the batholithic rock has bubbled up from the land in which it sits. The concrete floors have white dye and blue stone aggregate added - a nod to the granitic rock of the area.
The upper floor is a light cedar box that settles down onto the concrete, much like the thin later of organic matte that sweeps over the rugged terrain. The form of the house itself is strong and lacks adornment, which would only distract from the views of the land and vibrant sea.
With the exception of the master bedroom, the upper floor is open-concept. This allows the homeowners to perch up high and enjoy natural light and panoramic ocean views. The lower level features an office, a media room and guest rooms that have their own washroom, laundry and kitchenette. The interior of the home is punctuated by a dramatic 63-foot countertop that runs along the entire back wall of the house. This surface does quadruple-duty, morphing from master bath countertop to laundry folding table, to the main kitchen and pantry counter, and then to an office desktop. Pocket doors allow each area to be closed off when required. Most of the countertop underlines large windows that span to the ceiling.
The house incorporates passive solar heating strategies. The south-facing overhang over the large, lower level windows allows the sun to penetrate into the rooms in the winter, while summer sun is blocked. Upstairs, a shared screen porch, surrounded on three sides by the living room, dining room, and master bedroom, also acts as another opportunity to block summer sun inside the home, while allowing winter sun to penetrate the upper floor. Large screen openings on either side of the house allow the ocean breeze to flow through. The house also has a heat pump and hydronic heating. Due to the lower water table on the property, a large cistern in the mechanical room collects rainwater from the roof, which is then used for grey-water purposes like flushing toilets and watering outdoor plants. Two solar panels on the roof help to heat water.